Checkmate: Let's Play Chess

July 18, 2022 | Bill V.

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I read that after the Netflix series The Queen's Gambit there was a run on chess sets ... and I hope that's true! This blog celebrates International Chess Day, on July 20th.  But it's also a nod to librarian John P., who not only blogged for many years at the Library, but is also a great chess lover (and who helped me with this blog - thanks John). 

If you're interested in learning about chess then let Library can be your trusted friend. 


Famous Players

There have been many great players in the history of chess. Here are some books that introduce you to some greatest chess players ever and some of their best chess games. It's not easy to decide who is the best chess player of all time, so I'll leave that to you to decide.

The Queen's Gambit

The Queen's Gambit 

"Eight-year-old orphan Beth Harmon is quiet, sullen, and by all appearances unremarkable. That is, until she plays her first game of chess. Her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer, and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. By the age of sixteen, she's competing for the US Open championship. But as Beth hones her skills on the professional circuit, the stakes get higher, her isolation grows more frightening, and the thought of escape becomes all the more tempting."


Endgame Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness

Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness by Frank Brady

"A biography that captures the complete, remarkable arc of the life of the chess master, Bobby Fischer."

See also: 


Mortal Games The Turbulent Genius of Garry Kasparov

Mortal Games: The Turbulent Genius of Garry Kasparov by Fred Waitzkin

"Over the course of his unprecedented career, Garry Kasparov dominated the chess world with astonishing creativity and explosive passion. In this unforgettable work of reportage, author Fred Waitzkin "captures better than anyone--including Kasparov himself in his own memoir--the various sides of this elusive genius" (The Observer)."

See also "Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins".


Chess Queens The True Story of a Chess Champion and the Greatest Female Players of All Time

Chess Queens: The True Story of a Chess Champion and the Greatest Female Players of All Time by Jennifer Shahade

"Jennifer Shahade, a two-time US Women's Chess Champion, spent her teens and twenties travelling the world playing chess. Tournaments have taken her from Istanbul to Moscow, and introduced her to players from Zambia to China. In this ultra male-dominated sport, Jennifer found shocking sexism, but she also found friendships, feminism and hope. Through her own story as well as interviews with international players, Jennifer invites us into the extremely competitive world of chess."


The Queen of Katwe A Story of Life  Chess  and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster

The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster by Tim Crothers

"Phiona Mutesi, is a 15-year-old girl born and raised in a miserable slum ... in Uganda. She sleeps in a decrepit mud hut with her mother and four siblings and struggles to find a single meal each day. Phiona has been in and out of school her whole life because her mother cannot afford to send her, so she is only now learning to read and write. Phiona Mutesi is also one of the top chess players in the world."


Practical Chess

Whether you are new to chess, or an experienced amateur looking for some help to improve, this section is for you. These recommendations focus on fundamentals and instructions based on expert advice and the greatest strategies seen to date. Oh, and I found a couple of good book just for kids too!

Chess 5334 Problems  Combinations and Games

Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games by László Polgár

"Chess takes you through more than 5,000 unique instructional situations, many taken from actual matches, including 306 problems for checkmate in one move, 3,412 mates in two moves, 744 mates in three moves, 144 simple endgames, and 128 tournament game combinations. Organized by problem type."

See also Lasker's Manual of Chess and also Study Chess with Tal.


Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games

Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games by Graham Burgess

"The 125 greatest chess games of all time, selected, analysed, re-evaluated and explained by a team of British experts and illustrated with over 1,000 chess diagrams."


The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played 62 Masterpieces of Chess Strategy

The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played: 62 Masterpieces of Chess Strategy by Irving Chernev

"Here are 62 masterly demonstrations of the basic strategies of winning at chess, compiled and annotated by one of the game's most admired and respected writers. Each game offers a classic example of a fundamental problem and its best resolution, described and diagrammed in the clearest possible manner for players of every level of skill."

See also Winning Chess: How to Perfect your Attacking Play.


How to play chess  lessons from an international master

How to Play Chess: Lessons from an International Master Great Courses DVD by Jeremy Silman

"Learn chess from an international master and renowned teacher in these intensively illustrated, easy-to-understand lessons for players at all levels."


Chess for Kids How to Play and Win

Chess for Kids: How to Play and Win by Richard James

"This is the perfect introduction to chess for children from the age of seven upwards. The book contains 30 short lessons, starting with learning about the board and the pieces, then the moves of each piece in turn, then the vital concepts of check, checkmate and stalemate, and finally basic strategy and thinking skills. Quizzes and puzzles reinforce what the children learn."  See also Chess for Kids and also Chess be the King.